Wednesday, August 20, 2014

In the Dragon's Eye: To Die Fur & Memory Zero

In the Dragon's Eye is where I share the books I've got my acquisitive eye on: the ones I'm really excited about and hope to read and perhaps add to the hoard.  I also link to "Waiting On" Wednesday, hosted by Jill at Breaking the SpineCover links take you to Goodreads; all blurbs are also from Goodreads.

I've got my eye on two paranormal mysteries coming out next week: a relatively light paranormal cozy featuring a ghost dog and a telepathic cat, and the first in a new urban fantasy series by Keri Arthur, an author I've heard about but not yet read. (Memory Zero was published in 2004 by ImaJinn, but is now being re-released by Dell.)

To Die Fur (Whiskey Foxtrot Tango #2)
 Dixie Lyle
St. Martin's Paperbacks: 8/26/14
Deirdre "Foxtrot" Lancaster is back. With trusted companions Whiskey and Tango, she’s on the prowl for a brand-new predator…

Foxtrot has her hands full, as usual. Working as as a Jill-of-all-trades for a zany billionaire like Zelda Zoransky means the daily grind is closer to a juggling act, and this week is no exception—especially when her side job is directing spiritual traffic in Zelda’s pet cemetery. With ZZ hosting a party for some of the world’s wealthiest animal collectors and a rare albino liger named Augustus in residence at the private zoo, Foxtrot is ready for trouble to take a big bite out of her schedule…

She doesn’t have to wait long. The half-ton big cat is dead, and there’s a houseful of colorful suspects, each one wackier than the next. But if they were all bidding to buy him, who would want Augustus dead? With the help of Tango’s feline telepathy and Whiskey the canine shapeshifter, Foxtrot learns that there’s much more to Augustus than meets the eye. Now they just have to sniff out a killer before any more fur flies…
 *     *     *

Memory Zero (Spook Squad #1)
 Keri Arthur
Dell: 8/26/14


For Sam Ryan, life began at age fourteen. She has no memory of her parents or her childhood. In a decade of service with the State Police, Sam has exhausted the resources of the force searching for clues to her identity. But all mention of her family seems to have been deliberately wiped off the record. Everything changes the night Sam’s missing partner resurfaces as a vampire... and forces her to kill him in self-defense. Now Sam is charged with murder. Suspended from the force, and with no one left to trust, Sam accepts some unexpected help from Gabriel Stern, a shapeshifter who conceals startling secrets.

While investigating the circumstances surrounding her partner’s strange behavior, Sam discovers that Garbriel’s been involved with a dangerous organization that’s planning a war on the human race. More immediate, someone is guarding the truth about Sam’s past—someone who’d rather see her dead than risk her knowing too much. To stay alive, Sam must unravel the threads of her past—and find out not only who she is but what she is.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Top Ten Books People Have Been Telling Me I Must Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is Top Ten Books People Have Been Telling Me I Must Read.  

  • The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan. My daughter Robin has been pushing me for several years to start this series, and I've been holding out until they were all published so I could read them in a row like I did the Percy Jackson series. Now that the last one is due out in October, I'd better get busy.
  • The Fault in Our Stars. Robin and just about everyone else on the planet want me to read John Green's bestseller about two teens with terminal cancer. But I know it's going to devastate me... and bring up tough memories of Robin's own serious illness about 8 years ago. (It wasn't cancer, and she's fully recovered, for which I frequently give thanks!)
  • The Thief of Attolia series by Megan Whalen Turner. Several bloggers have been recommending this title to me (or in one case, virtually forcing it into my hands and saying "Here, read this!") It's the sort of thing that's right up my alley, so I'm not sure why I keep putting it off. Time, probably - seems like there's always another ARC I need to read.
  • Precious Bane, by Mary Webb. My mother has wanted me to read this since I was in high school, and I've been resisting it for just as long. She was right about almost every other book suggestion she made, from Mary Stewart to Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, and Josephine Tey. I'm not sure what it is about Precious Bane that hasn't clicked with me, but I haven't been able to get into it.
  • The Outlander series by Diane Gabaldon.  Time travel, Scotland, the Jacobite rebellion. . .A lot of my friends and acquaintances have suggested this series, and I really should give it a try one of these days.
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Another recommendation from my daughter, and one I definitely plan to read.
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore. And yet another that Robin thinks I should read. I plan to -- when I get through some of my other backlog of reading.
  • Bella Andre's Sullivans series. My blogging friend Kimba has been encouraging me to read these. I read one and liked it, but there are at least 7 others in the series.
I suppose that's really more than ten, if you count the five Rick Riordans, the four Megan Whalen Turners, the seven Bella Andres, and all the Diana Gabaldons as separate books.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well, by Nancy Atherton (review)

When a strapping young Australian named Jack MacBride arrives in Finch to wrap up his late uncle’s affairs, heads turn in the sleepy English village. But when Lori volunteers to help Jack clear out his uncle’s overgrown garden, they discover something even more shocking than a stranger turning up in Finch.

After Lori laughingly tosses a coin into the garden’s old well and makes a wish, she is baffled to find that the wish seems to have come true. Word spreads, and the villagers turn out in droves to make wishes of their own. But as they soon learn, one person’s wish is another person’s worst nightmare and the village is thrown into chaos.

As more and more wishes come true, Lori resolves to find out what’s really going on. Is handsome Jack somehow tricking his neighbors? Or are they fooling themselves? With Aunt Dimity’s otherworldly help, Lori discovers that the truth is even more marvelous than a magical wishing well.


Ah, Finch! That lovely nearly-but-not-quite-perfect Cotswold village that's home to Lori Shepherd and her family – and the ghostly Aunt Dimity. Nancy Atherton's series has long been a favorite of mine for its warmth and optimism. The mysteries are the epitome of cozy; the majority of them contain no blood, no bodies, and often no real crime at all. Which is not to say that there is no mystery – but many of the mysteries are more in the way of puzzles.

In this book, the puzzle is the newly discovered wishing well. Is it real? And if not, why are people's wishes coming true? Is someone fulfilling them on purpose, and if so, why -- and how? As the granted wishes pile up, Lori begins to wonder if getting what you wish for is such a good thing after all.

Here's what I loved:
  • Atherton brings playfulness as well as a shrewd understanding to the old adage "Be careful what you wish for." Most of the villagers' wishes make perfect sense if you've been reading the series as long as I have, but one or two surprised me.
  • Jack MacBride is a nice addition to Finch, and more memorable than his quiet uncle. I hope he sticks around. . . not least because there may be a romance brewing. (No, not with Lori, who is still happily married to Bill Willis.)
  • Derek and Emma's son Peter and his wife Cassie make their first appearance in the books in quite a while. I've had a soft spot for Peter since he was a boy in Aunt Dimity and the Duke (a prequel to the series), and I'm always glad when he turns up.
  • We get to know some of the villagers better, both through their wishes and how they react when a wish comes true.
  • The villager's bonds of friendship and tolerance are tried by some of the events in the book, but ultimately it all works out and Finch returns to being the warm, neighborly place that Atherton's readers love. I promise that's not a spoiler -- after all, you expect a cozy mystery to end happily! Besides, I'm keeping most of the solution and denouement secret - though you might figure at least some of it out partway through.

Here's what made me less happy: 
  • The books are lighter than they were at the beginning of the series, in word count, complexity, and depth of feeling. I still enjoy them; when a new one comes out, I save it to read as a treat when I need the book equivalent of a nice cup of tea. But I do sometimes miss the strength of the earlier books.
  • Bill, Lori's husband, feels less substantial than in the early books. It's very clear Lori still loves him, so I'm not sure why he has receded so much. Of course, he's a lawyer and has to work while Lori is investigating, helping her neighbors, and mothering her twins, but still, I'd like to see him be more of a presence.
  • I figured out some of the how of the mystery very quickly, though I wasn't clear on why, and I certainly didn't make the connections Aunt Dimity did.
Overall, Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well was a light, entertaining, and comfortably soothing read at the end of a stressful day. And that's just what I was looking for.

*   *   *

Rating: 3.75 stars

Category: Cozy paranormal mystery
Series: Aunt Dimity #19
Publisher: Viking Adult
Release date: April 17, 2014
Book source: public library

Other reviews in this series:
Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch - review

About the author:  Nancy Atherton is a dark-haired American with a generally unwrinkled face, a beaming smile, and hazel eyes, who lives in a plain house in Colorado Springs. She comes from a large, gregarious family (five brothers and two sisters!) and enjoys socializing as much as she enjoys solitude.

So if you are looking for her at a convention, don't look for a stately grande dame in a flowery dress. Look for a woman in jeans and sneakers who's bounding around like a hyperactive gerbil.

That'll be her. And she'd love to meet you.
(biography adapted from Goodreads)

Connect with the author:   Website    |    Facebook     |    Goodreads